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For Nearly 40 years Madison Area YMCA Karate Program Led by Shifu Christopher Goedecke Builds a Better Mind Body Connection Through an Ancient Tradition 

Shifu Chris Goedecke breaks the Mind Body Barrier Credits: Courtesy of Christopher Goedecke

The Madison Area YMCA’s karate program, the longest running civic martial art program in the state of New Jersey, is directed by Christopher Goedecke, a career teacher and eighth-degree black belt, whose breadth and depth of experience and commitment to spreading the many benefits of the martial arts is unparalleled.  

Shifu (master teacher) Goedecke, for 37 years, has run the Y’s martial arts programs encompassing all ages, focusing on self-discipline, building character, instilling self-confidence and learning artful ways to avoid conflict on all levels of life. 

Goedecke’s philosophy shifts the training emphasis from the exclusive punching, kicking and board-breaking practices that characterize mainstream martial arts toward developing a stronger mind body connection. Y students learn the therapeutic side of martial movement through his Dharma Hand practices, a vigorous alternative to yoga that introduces members to hundred’s year old physical forms. “The ancient lineage masters of Asia understood that an equal value to health and personal development existed when martial practices were not just focused solely on ‘the fight’ or the struggle to keep oneself protected,” said Goedecke. “This is where karate veered deep into yoga territory and why Traditional martial arts presented in this manner is considered a form of yoga.”

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The Y’s program offers exciting, safe and dynamic classes for children and adults 4 year olds to senior citizen-age, taught by top-notch, dedicated professionals. Members can train from white belt to black belt in tiered programs for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Students learn skills from basic karate techniques, escaping grips and developing simple strategies for avoiding danger, practical self-defense, escape/release techniques, standing grappling maneuvers, flexibility, conflict resolution strategies, meditation, breath control and traditional kata. Classes focus on concentration, flexibility, agility, balance and fun.

All are invited to observe a Y karate class at the Family Center. New children beginners who sign up for the Fall karate class will receive an autographed copy of Goedecke’s book, Smart Moves: A Kids Guide to Self Defense. A celebrated author, Goedecke, who has 48 years of experience in the martial arts and taught thousands of students, is publishing his newest book, Rebel Isshinryu: The 57 Challenges, Exploring Karate Myths, Madness and Mysteries, this fall.

Kinder Karate SMART MOVES is for children 4 to 6 years old, led by black belt Brian Vivas on Tuesdays 5-5:30 p.m.; Wednesdays 5-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays 1-1:30 p.m.

The Youth Karate Beginner and Advanced program is led by Goedecke. Beginner classes are Tuesdays 5:30-6:30 p.m. and Saturdays 2:30-3:30 p.m.; Intermediate classes are Wednesdays 5:30-6:30 p.m.; Intermediate/Advanced classes are Saturdays 1:30-2:30 p.m. and Intermediate/Advanced classes are Tuesdays 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Adult Karate, for ages 14 through adult, is led by Goedecke on Wednesdays 6:30-7:30 p.m. No experience is necessary.

Adult Dharma Hand Karate for Health, Movement & Self-Protection is an ongoing, open enrollment class led by Goedecke every Monday and Wednesday 8-9:30 p.m. 

Goedecke, a Hachidan (eighth-degree black belt) and Buddhist monk is also an author of five books on martial arts. He has appeared in Who's Who in American Karate and has appeared on cable television and radio programs demonstrating and discussing martial arts. He is an adjunct lecturer at Drew University where he has taught karate since 1984. Among his many awards, honors and special merits, Goedecke was appointed to senior martial monk in the Tenshin Ryushin Ji by the temple’s head monk, Arakawa Mitsugi, in August in an intriguing esoteric Chinese lineage called the Wu Hsin Tao (Path Of The Clear Mind), that dates back centuries. For more information about Goedecke, visit

To sign up for Y karate classes, visit


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